Monday, February 9, 2009

Say NO to Island Paradise

Sorcerer Lodge. It was a lot of fun. Paul has done a great job with the photos (links in this post), but here's my biased and probably inaccurate version of events.

After a initially scenic drive to Golden, which turned fairly dark and grim as soon as I got into the driver's seat, we gathered together and met most of the gang... then got some sleep before or early start for the flight in. I've spent many hours waiting for weather to change, and that was in store for us again this time. High winds meant the helicopter couldn't land up at the lodge and we spent our time attempting to make cups of tea and marvelling at the lack of heat that emerged from "Mr Heater". After a while we abandoned Mr Heater and the stove and did some avalanche beacon searches, which was a much better way to stay warm.

Eventually the weather improved and the business of ferrying us into the lodge began. The feeling of swinging in over the treetops, landing in the snow and getting out of the helicopter into the blowing snow is pretty special. After a few moments of feeling special we got on with the business of hauling gear to the cabin... it's amazing how much stuff you bring when you have a machine to carry it for you.

Sorcerer Lodge sits by a small lake, at the feet of "The Wizard" (a mountain)... alongside a huge glacial moraine ridge. It was a spectacular location, which only really makes sense to me now I see it on Google Earth. After some faff, working out how to winch water out of the lake to drink, some snacks, and dinner... we got a night's sleep ready for our first day of skiing.

We skied up onto the Escargot Glacier and were greeted by some interesting sastrugi. Interesting stuff, but rather tricky to ski downhill on. We did get a great view of Mt Iconoclast, which we would approach again from the other side later in the trip. We escaped the sastrugi and headed for the trees, where there was some fun to be had in better snow.

Kala, post-sastrugi.
The following day started off cloudy, so we stayed in the trees and found some good stuff to ski in pretty decent condition.


Over the next few days we were luckier with the weather and were able to get up above the valley mist to the White Russian Col, Perfect Glacier, and Nordic Glacier. Lots of travelling in the mountains, some steep boot-packing up to ridges and spectacular glaciated terrain. It was a great feeling to be out in the mountains surrounded by rock and ice and howling wind... peaceful, in a noisy way. 

I carry big red pins with me when I go skiing so I know where I went.

Returning to the spooky valley mist.

Paul dropping into the trees below the lodge.

Bootpack with a view.

The noisy peace of the mountains.

Margaret in Storm-trooper headwear.

Each night we got to eat some truly fantastic food prepared by Deb, our cook for the week. Jim, Josh, and Ian did a great job of guiding us and keeping us informed and entertained. In return we kept them pretty well entertained with our renditions of hits of the '80s accompanied by Margaret on the guitar. Take on Me went particularly well I thought. Being a big group of (mostly) telemark skiers with enthusiasm for jumping off things seemed to go down well too. Then there was the sauna... a popular place each evening, but not big enough for all of us so we had to work out an elaborate shift system. Our group's Swedish representative (Gustav) did a fine job of getting the sauna hotter each night, to the point where I couldn't stay in it for more than about 2 minutes. Of course that was a good excuse to go and run around in the snow. 

And finally, here's a photo of something completely different. Big Jon who I went to school with now flies aeroplanes for a living and came to visit Vancouver a few weeks ago. We went skiing in some lovely spring conditions (in February)... as you can see the love is still there after all these years.